The Leader In You Can Invigorate Collective Purpose

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One thing that I heard loud and clear from all the great visionaries is that ‘to be a great team leader, it’s important to help your team understand the purpose of their work and how that work benefits the organization as a whole’.

You should ask yourself: (1) How do we ensure the team comes in unity where all have the same goal, same philosophy and same concerns? (2) Is there a plan where the entire organization can be treated as a single team and portrait that to the customer which is key for most of the organizations today. (3) How would each of my team members describe the purpose of our team? (4) Can I describe the purpose of our team and how we fit into the larger organization?

How do we know we’re on track: (1) Your team actively participants in the direction of the team (by asking question, exploring how their work fits into the big picture. (2) We overhear our team members explain the work of the team and how the team fits into the larger organization.

The Innovation Center (IC) once shared a great perspective on ‘collective leadership’ which is an emerging approach to leadership development that received national attention as the focus of a multi-year foundation initiative led by IC staff and partners. Collective leadership occurs when people come together and mobilize human, cultural, and technological resources in ways that improve their communities for the common good.  It is an inherently inclusive approach to leadership because it asks individuals to cross boundaries of all types –such as age, income, religion, and culture – as they commit to bidirectional learning, joint action, shared responsibility, and mutual accountability.  Collective leadership represents a shift away from an exclusive focus on individual change agents and highlights the importance of more collaborative approaches.

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Collective leadership is organized around a set of core principles: it is a relational approach where multiple individuals assume leadership roles within a group while the entire group provides leadership to the wider community; it is a fluid approach that evolves in response to specific situations and settings; and it is a transformational approach rooted in a commitment to social justice.

These guiding principles are enacted as leaders move through the four stages of community development: get ready, plan, implement, and sustain.  The first stage, building readiness, lays the foundation for all future work.  It involves building relationships with and among community partners and managing the logistical tasks associated with a new effort.  The planning phase begins with visioning as leaders agree on their desired goals and articulate methods for achieving them.  During the implementation stage, they work together to turn these plans into a reality.  And sustaining the work calls for robust strategies and partnerships to ensure long-term impact.

At each stage of the process, leaders focus their attention and energy on five practices: (1) foster youth-adult partnerships, (2) mobilize community assets, (3) tap into individual gifts, (4) build teamwork, and (5) reflect and learn.  These elements lie at the heart of the collective leadership approach and inform hands-on, practical work in the community.

What leadership strategies have you use with your team to build a sense of collective purpose or mission?


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